Tuesday, July 2, 2013


MARION DAVIES is one of the most known mistresses in the world.

That's because when his wife would not go through a divorce, William Randolph Hearst chose to live with her anyway and she him, in California.

According to her memoir, written in 1961, ten years after he died, and which was not published until 1975, more than ten years after she died in 1963, W.R. wanted to get a divorce but couldn't convince his wife to allow it.  So they gave up trying but he did not see or speak to his wife, though they had grown sons, for 25 years.

Marion and W.R. met when she was about 14 years old, maybe 16; she is known to have lied about her age as an adult taking about 7 years off the January 3rd 1897 date when she was born Marion Cecilia Douras, claiming to be born in 1905.  At the time they met she was on stage at the Ziegfield Follies in New York City where so many of the dancers had "Back Stage Johnnys, " Patrons," "Mentors," and became mistresses.  She and her sisters all had entertainment ambitions and the family together changed their surname to Davies.

The family was respectable and so was the early courtship of Marion and W.R.  He gave expensive presents to impress her. He came around the house, was friendly with her parents, who liked him, and Marion and W.R. were fast friends for some time before becoming more involved.

At the time they met W. R., as she called him, was a fifty eight year old mega-successful newspaper man who began building his personal fortune during the Spanish Civil War.  If there is any criticism of Marion's acting or movie success, it is that some say if it were not for Hearst's promotions and involvements in her career, she would not have made it so far. When Marion "retired" into mistresshood sometime before World War II, she was a movie star, a major star of the 1920's and 1930's, who had made 45 films in those early days of Silent Pictures and then Talkies. 

Their relationship is called "a 32 year affair." 

His pet name for her was "Rosebud."

He built her a "beach house" in Santa Monica that was a manor house.  Together they held lively parties at San Simeon, known today as Hearst Castle, because of all the parts of castles he bought in Europe and installed inside, but which he called "The Ranch."  (San Simeon is a major tourist attraction on the Central Coast of California today.) They flew Hollywood stars and supporting casts up the California Coast from Hollywood to be part of the weekend parties.  Charlie Chaplin was one of many regular visitors. Marion had a bubbly personality and kept things lively for their guests.

They sailed with their guests off the coast too.  There was one big scandal when a film producer was accidentally shot and killed on the boat, but generally their relationship was not considered scandalous. 

They lived across the country from W.R.'s wife, they traveled with an entourage to Europe every year for many years, and were accepted as a couple by many of the most elite. 

Marion was ambitious, though she hardly sounds it when you read her story as she wrote it.

She also used the money she earned to invest in real estate and is said to have turned her personal fortune into 20 million dollars.  She became a charitable giver and amassed a precious jewelry collection that was sold in 1963 after her death for about half a million dollars. (The beach house was sold at great loss.)

While Marion was not a secret mistress, there is a story that came out years later,  that she had a secret child. 

The rumor was leaked after the the death of  Marion's "niece" Patricia Van Cleve Lake, who was married to Arthur Lake, an actor, successfully, for her entire adult life.  The rumor was that Patricia was actually Marion's child with Hearst.  Patricia was raised by Marion sister and they spent many a summer and much of their European travel with Marion and W.R.  According to Patricia Lake herself, who made recordings on her death bed, at her wedding to Arthur at San Simeon, Hearst called her into his office and said "I'm your father." 

In her memoir Marion denied ever having had any children.


No comments: